John Gill’s comments on Jeremiah 23:40 are telling. But first, who was he?
Wikipedia says John Gill was an English Baptist pastor, biblical scholar, and theologian who held to a firm Calvinistic soteriology. Born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, he attended Kettering Grammar School where he mastered the Latin classics and learned Greek by age 11
Jeremiah 23:40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.’ “
Here are Gill’s comments
And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you,…. Which was a just retaliation for reproaching, vilifying, and bantering his word: they who had been honoured so much and so long as the people of God, and their city counted the glory of the earth; yet now both they and that should be the byword of the people, and had in the utmost contempt, and that for ever, or at least a long time, even for a series of ages; which has been their case ever since their destruction by the Romans, and still is; for this cannot be restrained to the short captivity of seventy years in Babylon; though this reproach began then, and they never recovered their former honour and glory;
and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten; the same thing in different words, to heighten their disgrace, and confirm the perpetuity of it.
Everlasting reproach upon Jerusalem is not forever…but as Gill says a long time even a series of ages. Let the reader understand that the words translated as everlasting, forever, eternal in the English Bible have been translated WRONGLY!! Gill knew that in his time for he had studied Greek.
What on earth am I saying!?
Look a bit deeper please dear reader. What is the Hebrew word that has been translated as everlasting in this text? It is the word “olam olam”.
Here is the verse in Hebrew with Strong’s numbers.
ונתתיH5414 עליכםH5921 חרפתH2781 עולםH5769 וכלמותH3640 עולםH5769 אשׁרH834 לאH3808 תשׁכח׃H7911
The Greek old testament uses the comparative word in Greek to olam…which is aionian or aionios from the root word aion from which we get the English eon…or an age of time.
The Greek Septuagint uses G166 aionios in Jeremiah 23:40 to convey the meaning of the Hebrew Olam olam H5769.
Of G166 Vine says ” aionios describes duration, either undefined but not endless, as in Rom 16:25; 2Ti 1:9; Tit 1:2; or undefined because endless as in Rom 16:26, and the other sixty-six places in the NT.
The translators use aionios to convey the same meaning as olam olam.
All throughout the old testament olam olam has been given the meaning of forever, everlasting, eternal. Yet it only means that when it is applied to God or His attributes.
Thus a literal version will not twist the meaning of olam to be forever or everlasting. For example The Young’s Literal Translation of Jer 23:40 reads…
Jer 23:40 And I have put on you reproach age-during, And shame age-during that is not forgotten!
And Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible has
23:40 and will give unto you reproach age–abiding,––and disgrace age–abiding, which shall not be forgotten.
If the reproach God placed upon Israel is truly everlasting then how can Israel ever be saved? How can God’s words to them and indeed to all of us be fulfilled?
Is the sacrifice of Jesus truly able to take away all our reproach for all our sins or not? Not according to the translation teams of most versions of the Bible!!
According to most translators everlasting reproach shall be upon Israel forever!! We know as Christians that that simply cannot be the case for God has said He will restore and save Israel.
Instead of pointing at and examining the translation we make up all kinds of theologies to explain how God can still place reproach everlasting upon Israel and save them at the same time. It is absolute BALONEY!!
We desperately want to protect our assumed definition of olam and aionios as forever and everlasting because the false definition undergirds our ‘Eternal punishment in burning fire’ doctrines. If olam and aionios do not mean everlasting in Jer 23:40…then friends, it does not mean eternal and everlasting in the New Testament either!!
It was St Augustine who was raised in the Latin classics just like John Gill was over a thousand years after him. But the difference was that John Gill was also well trained in Greek…whereas Augustine knew nothing of the language…or Hebrew for that matter.
And it was Augustine who argued that if our salvation is eternal then the punishment allotted to the wicked must also be equal..that is eternal punishment. This is based upon Matthew 25:41 and 46.
But as I have briefly shown you, aionios and olam do not mean everlasting, they properly mean an AGE OF TIME…LONG OR SHORT DURATION BUT NEVER ETERNAL!!
Matthew 25:41 and 46 in Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible.
25:41 Then, will he say unto those also, on his left hand: Depart ye from me, accursed
ones! Into the age–abiding fire, which hath been prepared for the adversary and his
25:46 And, these, shall go away, into, age–abiding, correction, but, the righteous, into, age–abiding, life.
Age abiding is not eternal or everlasting. Rotherham knew Greek. Even the so called everlasting life the believer has is not technically eternal. It is the Life of the Age to come…or ‘life pertaining to the age'(aion).
But because the Life we have received is Jesus Christ in us…then that Life is eternal Life for it is the Life of God Himself.
But the correction in Mtt 25:46 is not eternal everlasting correction…..Think!!
God corrects patiently so that the one being corrected changes. The word is not punish….but correct. Do you correct your child…or just punish him? God is Love, and He does correct us…faithfully and patiently…until , as long as it takes, until we repent.
The translators have sown a monstrous tare into God’s word and blasphemed His heart and name. They have caused His children to have the wrong view of Him. They have made of God our loving Father a tyrant, a heartless torturer…which is not the Father, but Lucifer himself.